Hello Margaret, and welcome to my blog. It’s a real pleasure to have you here.
Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Juliet. I’m delighted to be here.
Having enjoyed your historical novels, such as The Silver Locket, it was a lovely surprise to read your contemporary story for Choc Lit, The Wedding Diary. Can I ask what the inspiration was for such a different bo0k?
A year or two ago, my local writing group ran a plot-generating workshop. So we were all trying to come up with some original what-if situations. The one which popped into my head was – what if you won a competition for which the first prize was a fantabulous wedding in a country house hotel, but you didn’t have anyone to marry?
It’s certainly a great idea! I loved the fairy godmother with such a deliciously naughty streak, is she based on anyone?
I don’t know where Fanny came from. She’s not based on anyone I know. She walked into my head as a fully-formed character saying come along, darling, write about me. All her lines seemed to arrive as if by some kind of celestial dictation. I’ve never written about anyone remotely like Fanny before. I knew from the start that she was essentially benign, but that she was a force of nature, too. A man like Jack would cross her at his peril…
Definitely! Let’s hope he learns his lesson! Did you set out to write a contemporary story, or was it that the idea that was so good you just had to go for it?
I told one of the people in my writing group that although I thought the concept of winning a competition but not being able to accept the prize was quite a good one, I wouldn’t be able to write a novel about that. She said go on, I bet you could. I always like a challenge.
I’m glad you did. And as the owner of a dog who insists on stealing the limelight, I have to ask if you have a particular inspiration for Caspar the dog?
My older daughter had a beautiful and elegant grey whippet who was a bit dim, but was a charming, gentle and much-loved pet. The real dog is now in Whippet Heaven, but she lives on in Caspar, who has a similar sweet temperament.
What were the different challenges of writing a historical and a contemporary novel? You must have to do detailed research for historicals, did you have to do lots of research for this one, too?
The great thing about writing a contemporary novel was that it was comparatively research-free. All I had to do was listen to real people talking, watch television programmes about restoring stately homes, go to Italy and climb the Torre Guinigi myself, and go to the biggest Marks and Spencer in the world. Yes, it’s a hard life!
Now that sounds like my kind of research! Did you enjoy writing from a modern male’s point of view?
Yes, very much. One of the great pleasures of writing fiction is that it allows me to be other people, and it was fun being a thirty-something man for a while. But Adam is a fantasy creation. I’ve never met or heard of any man who is as wonderful as Adam. I don’t suppose such a man exists. Although if any reader knows better, I’d be delighted to hear about a real life paragon!
(sighs) Me too! So for your next book are you planning another contemporary or are you returning to a historical setting
Or maybe both?
I have written the first draft of a historical novel, but I think the villain is going to have to be the hero because heis much more interesting and has a longer moral journey to make than the hero, who is actually (whisper) rather dull. So that book is on the back burner while I finish another contemporary story.
Thank you, Margaret, and I look forward to your next book – historical and contemporary!
The Wedding Diary
If you won a fairy-tale wedding in a luxury hotel, you’d be delighted – right? But what if you didn’t have anyone to marry? Cat Aston did have a fiance, but now it looks like her Prince Charming has done a runner.
Adam Lawley was left devastated when his girlfriend turned down his heartfelt proposal. He’s made a vow never to fall in love again.
So – when Cat and Adam meet, they shouldn’t even consider falling in love. After all, they’re both broken hearted. But for some reason they can’t stop thinking about each other. Is this their second chance for happiness, or are some things just too good to be true?
Margaret James is a British writer of historical and contemporary fiction. She has written sixteen commercially published novels and many short stories and articles on the art of writing. Margaret is also a journalist working for the UK’s Writing Magazine and teaches creative writing for the London School of Journalism.
Margaret was born in Hereford, UK, and now lives in the beautiful county of Devon, UK.